Joe Barr was a friend of mine, and I loved him.
I pretty much remember the first time I met him. After all, he was a pretty memorable guy! Ridin' his bicycle up to the store, with a personality as big as his heart, I was immediately taken with this fella!
Our friendship was basically sealed that first encounter - we got to talking about music. Over the years that would continue to be one of our main areas of friendship. We were both guitar pickers, and we talked about that a whole lot, many, many times, over many years. But the big thing was the Blues! We both had a mutual love for that particular genre of music. Talking Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Albert King, Buddy Guy & others. Like me, Joe also had an appreciation for all kinds of music, though. Country, Rock, Rockabilly, and so on.
Joe was a hard workin' fella, too. I remember he'd stay pretty busy mowing lawns, working on folks' houses & doing handyman work. He liked to stay busy & sure didn't mind putting in some hard work. I'd get worried about him sometimes during the hot summer months. He'd come in dripping with sweat. I know at least a couple of times I'd insist for him to stay in the store for a bit in the AC & drink some water. But usually he'd be ready to go after just a few minutes. "Let me get back to it, Marshall," he'd say. Sometimes I could start talking about the guitar or the Blues & he might stay for an extra couple of minutes.
I just loved seeing Joe, and talking with him. I'd always smile when I saw that bike riding down the sidewalk. He was my friend, and I loved him.
It was so frustrating, as I know it was for many of you, to see all he had to deal with there for a couple of years. Truly an injustice, at least the "powers that be" got it right eventually, but it sure would've been nice if common sense could have prevailed back at the beginning, but unfortunately that's the reality we deal with. Things aren't always fair, particularly with the Justice system, and, if we're being real here - particularly when one is black. And I hate that. I truly do. It ain't right. It's not fair. But I suppose the silver lining is that things are finally getting better & we're starting to see some real criminal justice reform. I've been supporting this cause for years, but it finally seems as if real progress is being made. For what it's worth, I want all of you to know that Joe's memory will always be with me as I continue to advocate for this cause.
Also, I'd like to pass on that a lot of folks who have been following Joe's story were so sorry to hear of his passing. He's meant a lot to a lot of folks, but I know it's so much harder for you, the family. My thoughts, prayers & condolences are with you.
But that sadness is only ours, here in the Earthly realm. Joe has, as my Grandmother used to say, "gone home to Glory." He's in Heaven now. No more pain, no more suffering. So as we celebrate his life, I will continue to hold dear his memories, and keep working to try to help to make a world a better place. And every time I break out the guitar, especially when I'm picking the Blues, I'll be thinking about my friend, Mr. Joseph Barr.